The Dodge Boys had reason to smile when they got their first look at their 1968 model lineup.
Along with a newly-restyled Charger, and freshened versions of the compact Dart and full-size Polaras and Monacos, they had an updated mid-size line that was the equal, or better, than anything The General or the Blue Oval guys could offer. That included the high-performance mid-size Dodges, the Coronet R/Ts-a member of the new-for-'68 "Scat Pack," along with the Charger R/T and Dart GTS.
Introduced as a series in 1967, the Coronet R/T was back for 1968 with all-new sheetmetal for its hardtop and convertible bodies from Elwood Engel's stylists. That included a new roof that all two-door B-Bodies used, plus a more-pronounced "Coke bottle" shape to the rear quarters, wrapped around their top-trim-level interiors and anything-but-mushy powertrains and chassis. The 440 Magnum returned as the standard R/T engine, with only the 426 Hemi optional. Transmission choices were either the standard 727 TorqueFlite or the optional A-833 four-speed-which regained its factory-installed Hurst shifter at mid-year after a 2 1/2-year substitution of the sometimes-balky Inland Steel "toilet flusher." Intended to have a reverse-lockout feature like some "other" four-speed, the Inland-supplied OEM shifter proved to be less reliable than a Hurst-which was Ma Mopar's OEM four-speed shifter from '63-'65. Mopar guys usually replaced it with a Hurst "Competition Plus" shifter soon after their purchase, or they had their dealer install one before delivery.
Roger was aided by his buddy Herb McCandless on the powertrain, including this.....
That's one thing that happened with the Bright Blue Metallic '68 Coronet R/T hardtop of Roger Moricle's that you see here, a change that Roger approves of. "I don't like that raggedy Inland shifter they put in 'em," he says from his Burlington, North Carolina, home.
Roger's R/T is one of those early-production '68s, with an October 13, 1967, build date at St. Louis Assembly on its fender tag. He says there are some other early-'68 details on it, too. "The vent knobs are round, and not rectangular with 'VENT' on them, and the ashtray doors slide up and down, instead of folding out."
There are plenty of other original items on Roger's R/T, which are explained by the car's mileage-just 28,000 when he bought it back in the fall of 2000, and he's put maybe a few thousand more on it since its completion in August 2005. Much of the interior is original, as are the A-833 and Dana 60 rear end. The 440 that was in the car was a correct '68 engine, but its casting codes showed that it didn't come with this car.
.....Edelbrock-head-equipped 440. Note the McCandless-brand plug wires.
This isn't Roger's first '68 B-Body, as his high school ride was a four-speed-equipped Road Runner. Like many Mopar guys, he got the urge to get another one as time went by. "I'd been married a while and had a couple kids and all-you know how you get that middle-age urge to fix up sometthing again," he says. "A buddy of mine said he knew where a Road Runner was, not too far from here in a little community called Whitsett. This R/T was sitting there, and the guy who had the car had owned it for ten years and it never left his yard."
A car that old needs some attention, even with that few miles on it, so Roger built a rotisserie for it, and then used it to hold the unibody in place while it was taken apart. He had a lot of help from his friends on this project, especially one whose name is well known to Mopar Muscle readers: Herb McCandless. "Herb has helped me a tremendous amount on the car," Roger says, taking special note of Herb's work on the drivetrain. He also gives a shout-out to a couple other friends whose help was vauable. "I used Donnie Fogelman's shop to work out of, and that's where I spent the whole time I was putting it together. Another friend of mine, Mike Santini, helped me with the upholstery."
But that 440 had some special touches done to it, thanks to Herb and Roger. "It has 8.27:1 compression, I run a full 12 degrees of initial timing, it runs on regular gas-and it never detonates," he says. "It flies!" What else is in and on that RB? Roger explains, "If you notice in the pictures, it has a set of McCandless Performance plug wires on it," he says. "It also has a set of 88cc open-chamber Edelbrock aluminum heads and a Comp Hi-Energy camshaft that was originally a single-bolt cam. It has a Milodon 100-position double-roller timing set in it, a Milodon oil pan and pickup, a Hays street/strip clutch, and a Mopar Performance distributor with a 505 orange control box on.